Jodie’s Cafe and Bakery brings a taste of the south to Wiscasset

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Condiments and menu cards await diners at Jodie’s Cafe and Bakery in Wiscasset on Tuesday, June 14. The restaurant owners have come to the area from Georgia and bring Southern flavors to New England meals. (Photo by Bisi Cameron Yee)

Jodie’s Cafe and Bakery opened in Wiscasset on May 24, bringing a bit of the South to those Northern climes.

Owner Jodie Roquemore moved to the central Georgia area in 2020, attracted by the milder summer weather. Opening the cafe and bakery, her first business, is the culmination of a dream that began when she started cooking at the age of 10.

“It’s exciting and terrifying and awesome,” Roquemore said.

Most of her cooking skills were learned from her coastal South Carolina mother, Roquemore said, as well as most of her mannerisms. She wants to give diners a taste of the South, not just with Southern cuisine, but with Southern hospitality.

Although the menu is not specifically southern, there are several signature dishes that represent Roquemore’s roots.

“We have grains that I make every day. These are really awesome beans,” she said. A shrimp po’boy with chipotle aioli is one of the lunch offerings, as are shrimp and grits finished with buttery Cajun sauce and bacon bits.

There are occasional treats like banana pudding to further tempt Southern food lovers.

Roquemore eventually wants to introduce Mainers to a typical Southern Low Country boil with red potatoes, corn, shrimp and smoked sausage, all cooked in a large pot with Old Bay seasoning.

There’s also plenty of New England at Jodie’s Cafe and Bakery. Roquemore brought in local caterer Julie Bellefleur, of Bellefleur Bakery and Catering, to run the business. Bellefleur also ran the seasonal Tee Time Bakery & Cafe at Wawenock Golf Club in Walpole.

Roquemore and Bellefleur collaborated on the menu, with Bellefleur bringing her baking skills to the table. Pastries, breads and donuts are all homemade.

Corned beef hash is one of the most popular items on the breakfast menu. It is homemade, cooked gently and slowly with homemade fries. Roquemore said she ate it every day. The breakfast burrito and breakfast quesadilla also have their fair share of fans, she said.

Lunchtime favorites include the Chicken and Bacon Ranch Wrap, served fried or grilled, and the Reuben Corned Beef. Roquemore said red hot dogs, a Maine classic, will soon take their place alongside hamburgers and fish and chips on the menu.

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This menu is still a work in progress, Roquemore said. Some items are made in small test batches to gauge customer interest. She hopes specials, like a recent summer salad with fresh berries and candied pecans, will become a regular feature, allowing her staff to stretch their culinary skills and imaginations. At some point, she hopes to offer a barbecue.

“We have a lot of ideas,” she said.

Highlighting local products is one of these ideas. Roquemore said they source eggs from Bowden’s Egg Farm in East Waldoboro, fish from Mill Cove Lobster Pound in Boothbay and serve coffee from Big Barn Coffee Co. in Wiscasset. “It’s good business,” she said of partnering with hyperlocal vendors.

Jodie’s Cafe and Bakery is a business of friends and family, which is fortunate in today’s environment where many restaurants are struggling to find staff. Roquemore’s brother works in the kitchen and his children often help too.

“I’m so grateful to have this huge network of people who are able and willing to work,” she said.

Roquemore bought the property at 277 Bath Road in Wiscasset, former home of the Hot Spot Diner and Ship’s Chow Hall in late 2021 and spent the next six months remodeling the space.

She said it took longer than expected to get the cafe up and running. Initial plans to open in February did not take into account the impact of weather conditions. She had to wait for warmer weather to complete the renovation.

“We worked pretty hard on it,” she said. The open floor plan is part of his vision with a direct shot from the door to the counter, unobstructed by tables, at least for now. Red upholstered booths line the walls, covered in retro vinyl checkered tablecloths.

A newly constructed terrace on the side of the building will soon welcome outdoor diners, she said. While the bridge may be a seasonal feature, Roquemore plans to be open year-round.

Kathryn and Scott Mullen already have a regular table at Jodie’s Cafe and Bakery. Kathryn Mullen said she was working on the menu and was almost done with the breakfast offerings. She is a fan of Benedictine eggs and omelettes. Scott Mullen loved the Hot Mango Coconut Donut, one of the many donut flavors in daily rotation.

The duo appreciates the welcoming atmosphere, what Kathryn Mullen has called this “Norm from ‘Cheers'” feeling.

“There’s definitely a need for a breakfast restaurant here,” Roquemore said. With locals traveling south to Bath Iron Works and tourists traveling north into Wiscasset and beyond, it is well positioned to take advantage of the traffic on its doorstep.

“Come see us,” she said.

Jodie’s Cafe and Bakery is open from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily except Thursday. For more information, find the company on Facebook.

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